So it turns out that my adult locusts were not adults at all. Once locusts develop their wings they are fledglings, and it takes another week or so for them to fully mature into adult locusts and start to breed.
It’s during this period that they start eating like, well, a plague of locusts. They need to put on more weight in preparation for breeding.
Over the last week, almost all of my locusts have matured into fledglings, and a few have reached full maturity. They’ve started mating, and with this development I needed to rethink the design of their environment to allow for successful egg-laying.
I’ve taken all of the sticks and twigs out of the enclosure and replaced them with a cardboard frame, which is a prototype for a hardier frame I will soon laser cut out of plywood (I’ll be able to fit at least two frames inside the enclosure. Normal sticks are fine, but they tend to slide inside the tank – I needed something more stable that would utilise the space more effectively.
What it looks like inside an empty tank:
I’ve also changed the way I feed the locusts. Instead of throwing grass in, I’ve placed it inside a bamboo ring. The grass stands up like a normal plant, giving the locusts more vertical objects to climb on – and the base of the grass is protected from light and heat. This makes it last, as previously it’d dry out within a couple of hours.
Here’s the revised set-up:
I’m now spraying the small sand pit (where I hope eggs will be laid) a couple of times a day to keep it damp. It’s important to do this as if the sand dries out the egg burrows may collapse. You can see the sand pit at the back of the tank in the above picture.
I might try experimenting with another sand/dirt pit above ground if the locusts still aren’t laying in the next week or so.